People have often asked me how we girls managed any privacy in a house with so many boys and no private rooms. It was difficult. We used to bathe with a washcloth from a pan of water. We would first start with our necks and faces and wash down as far as possible. Then we would wash the road dust from our feet and wash up as far as possible. Later, when the boys were out of the room, we would wash “possible.”
It was these circumstances that led to a very embarrassing mishap that I have told very few people and would not relate here if it were not so funny. We had an outdoor bathroom, and there were times in the middle of the night when it was very inconvenient to dress and go out into the cold just to take a leak. For these times there was a little room, actually a closet, that had in it what was called a “slop jar” or “slop bucket.” It was actually an enameled pot with flared sides that was made to accommodate a woman squatting over it to do her business. The closet had no door as such, just a sort of curtain hung on a tight piece of wire. After dark when the fire had died down, it could afford some kind of privacy at least.
One night when I was about sixteen or seventeen, I had been out on a date and got home fairly late. Everybody was already in bed, and I didn’t want to wake them and alert Mama and Daddy to the hour of my homecoming. I was absolutely bustin’ to pee, so I fumbled my way through the dark until I found the curtain to the closet and stepped inside. I dropped my panties and hiked up my skirt and assumed the position over the slop jar. I was feeling relieved in a physical sense and quite grown-up and somewhat smug that I “pulled it off,” so to speak.
But suddenly, here in the middle of my little triumph, or more accurately here in the middle of my rump, came the cold nose of an unexpected intruder. A raccoon had gotten into the house, and unbeknownst to me, we were sharing the closet as well as a very intimate moment. When I felt that cold nose on my butt, I screamed bloody murder and literally peed all over myself.
Of course I woke the whole house with my unscheduled concert. Daddy grabbed the poker to fend off an intruder. Mama started praying. The little kids cried, and the big kids just ran around confused. When everybody found out what had happened, they all had a good laugh at my expense. Except, of course, the raccoon. Once the lights were turned on, he acted like any man caught in a compromising position with a lady and bolted for the door. I often think of that moment at times when I’m feeling “too big for my britches,” and it tends to have a humbling effect.